Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chapter 4 - Thanksgiving Produces Joy

I just thought I'd wait 4 months before I post about this chapter since it goes so well with the Thanksgiving holiday! :)

Live with thanksgiving, forgiveness, and joy, and enjoy all your moments as if they were your last.

We've all heard this phrase: "Enjoy all your moments as if they were your last."  But who really does that? Well, certainly not I.  Who can keep up that amount of energy, anyway? The answer is: someone whose heart is truly thankful...and joyful...and forgiving.

Debi starts this chapter with a bang:
"You have control over whether or not you and your husband will be 'heirs together of the grace of life' (1 Pet 3:7), or partners together in the tension and stress of life.  
You have much more control than you know."
She goes into a story about how her husband usually doesn't take the trash out. Her choice is: be annoyed, or find enjoyment in taking it out herself.  She's smart - she learned to enjoy it.  One day, she was taking a particularly large bag of trash out the door, when her husband scooped it up. He walked ahead of her, displaying his manly strength by holding it away from his body with one hand.  When he neared the dumpster, in a great display of macho-ness, he flung the bag of trash.  Instead of sinking it, the string broke, it hit the side of the trailer, and trash flew everywhere.   As Debbie rushed to clean up the mess, he just "continued on his merry way." (At this point my jaw dropped. I would be SO angry!)

-Her point is that rather than be irritated to the point of bitterness, and make sure that he felt her disappointment the rest of the day, she was able to recognize the damage that had just been done to his male psyche.  He was completely embarrassed, and she knew he would make sure to do it right next time.
-And really- is a BAG OF TRASH really that important to get all heated over? Well, there have been even less important things that I have found ways to get upset about. It's impressive, I know.

Make Love Fun
I love how Debbie describes her relationship with Mike. She is his playmate. (So... playmeet?) It's hard to be a playmate if you're constantly annoyed. Release those things. So what if you had to take the trash out this time (or ALL the time)? Clearing those things from your mind will allow you to be aware of the opportunities for FUN.
-"This, then, is the rule of life for wives: Live with thanksgiving, forgiveness, and joy, and enjoy all your moments as if they were your last.  Someday, soon enough, they will be."

~Time to Consider~
A good help meet is:
+ Joyful
+ Makes love fun
+ Thankful and content

"Joy is often lacking in a woman's life because she is not thankful."

Debi suggests the following ways to cultivate joy in our lives:
-Make a written list of ways that you can start showing thankfulness; then start living your list and show a thankful life.
-Say thank you and make mental notes to appreciate all the people God has placed around you.

Psalm 100:4 ~

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
and His courts with praise!
Give thanks to Him; bless his name!"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chapter 3 - A Thankful Spirit

Hello! I'm so sorry I let an extra week go by between posts. I have found that I haven't had a very "Thankful Spirit" lately, therefore it's difficult to want to write about!

The opening quote says:
A wise woman sets a joyful mood in her home. Through laughter, music, and happy times, she creates a positive attitude in her children.  She knows that a lighthearted home relieves her husband of stress.

Proverbs 15:15 ~ "All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast."

"A Merry Heart vs. Poor-Me Attitude"
Ohhhh boy, here we go. This chapter is short and...cut-throat!
Debi starts out by painting a picture about 4 different types of women (I gave them names to summarize):

1. The Complainer - This woman might "often complain about her family's lowly financial state and how she must 'do without' because her husband 'cannot support the family decently.'" Debi says that this downcast, unthankful attitude is a dishonor to God and an attack upon your husband's ego. WOAH. Did you get that? I don't feel like I'm dishonoring God or attacking my husband's ego when I had a bad day and I just feel like being a you? Guess I am. Yikes.

2. The Conscience - These women might learn to accept their lowly states - "They don't want to be carnally minded.  They live only for the eternal. So they saves their disapproving expressions for those times when they think it necessary to remind their husbands of how sad they are that he sits in front of the TV, plays video games..." (uses his laptop in bed, insert your pet peeve here ______________), etc. They act as the stand-in Holy Spirit - keeping the pressure on!  *Ouch* Been there, done that.

3. The Grass is Always Greener Girl - Some women think these thoughts: "If only" we would move to the country, we would be happy and our children would be protected from sinful habits...if only we lived closer to church, or in a better neighborhood, or spent more time studying the bible as a family...if only...if only... *WOW* Make it stop! I see all 3 of these types of women in me!

4. The Content - Debi told the story of walking into a home with no running water, or indoor bathroom. Can you imagine? It had no washing machine, dryer, or kitchen cabinets. Yet the sweet young bride was happy as could be, exclaiming how thankful she was to have her own place.  She was so proud of her husband's shelf, and how he was going to build a cabinet later for their stuff. Seriously?!?! And I feel deprived when my dishwasher is broken for a week.

"Thankful people have a view of life that begins somewhere deep in their souls, and outside circumstances just can't mar their joy."


How amazingly beautiful is that definition? How can we get to that point, Debi?

~"Joy begins with thankfulness. Quite often our attitudes hang in the balance; by making a conscious choice, we can tip our souls into dark moods of complaining, or into thankfulness and praise.  It is amazing how much your mouth controls your soul.

~"Thankfulness is HOW you think; Joy is the abundance it produces"

#1 - DECIDE to choose the positive.
#2 - SPEAK thankfulness and praise. (Thank you, God; thank you, husband; thank you, children)

~Then practice, practice, practice!  Have you noticed how easy it is to get in a bad mood and stay in a bad mood? That's because we are practicing bitterness, frustration, and sourness.  Let's try practicing joy and thanksgiving instead!

Colossians 3:15 ~ "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts to the which also you were called in one body, and be thankful."

~ Time to Consider ~
-Joy is a fruit of the spirit! (Galatians 5:22-23)
-Where does joy start?
-Have I ben discontent about my lot in life? Am I, on occasion a "poor me" person?
-Do I verbally show thanksgiving every day?
-Do I thank God for my husband?
-How can I add practicing joy and thanksgiving in my life?
-Am i willing to lay down my grievance toward my husband for the hope of a heavenly marriage?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chapter 2 - A Merry Heart

"The bible tells us that the JOY of the Lord is our strength.  For this marriage-making journey you're on, you will need all the strength afforded by the joy of the Lord." This is the opening line of the chapter, and it  could not be more true.  What type of strength? you ask. Here are some things I've needed strength for:
-Strength to keep my mouth closed (sometimes nothing but God's power can do that)
-Strength to put my beloved first (getting out of bed at 6 am to make his lunch and/or drive him to work is HARD!)
-Strength to give a soft answer
-Strength to repel bitterness (it's not fair that I have to...*insert bitter answer here*)
-Strength to "get over it" (instead of overanalyzing the situation until the cows come home)
-Strength to forgive (myself and him)
-Please feel free to share what type of strength you've acquired from having the joy of the Lord!

Debi suggests Proverbs 17:22, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." She says that a merry heart is the foundation of health and happiness. Remember this. Write it down. Say it out loud.

The early stages of dating are always so fun and exciting. We ladies are sweet and charming. There's always laughter in the air, and we can't stop smiling.  When does that smile stop?  It shouldn't ever, but too often it does (even in the first year due to disillusionment)! Do you still smile at him like you did when you first fell in love? Do you plan fun activities for you to do together like you did when you were dating?  "Are you still the same sweet little thing, or have you become a long-faced, sickly complainer? Is he still your lover? What would he say?"

One Ugly Hillbilly!
Debi told a story about an overweight hillbilly woman that worked in a local hardware store. There were always several men standing around her, laughing.  Her appearance was not appealing whatsoever, but she was always smiling, laughing, and giggling.  One day Debi and her husband were in the grocery store and they saw the same hillbilly woman yelling at her daughter. "Gone were the smiles, giggles, and radiance that had so captivated everyone at the hardward store. In their place was a bitter, ugly snarl."  As they were leaving the store, Debi's husband said that she looked familiar.  Debi told him who she was, and he could not believe it...he said he did not remember her looking like that.  She looked the same, but "all she lacked was her glorious smile.  It was her most valuable asset.  Her face was always so radiant, her smile so infectious, her laughter so sweet, and her eyes so earnest that people simply saw her as cute!"

Debi goes on to say that everyone is drawn to a smile, and men are highly attracted to smiles.  Such a simple concept, yet how often do we consciously make an effort to smile and laugh at our mate (and others as well)? I've been really trying to do this more, and I find that it improves MY mood to smile! It's a win-win.

The Desparate Wife
Debi received a letter from a desperate wife whose husband was having an emotional affair with his secretary.  Debi gave her an AMAZING response, I wish you could read it all.  If you are in this situation, PLEASE track down a book and read pages 28-32. It will empower you. Basically, her points were:

  • The husband is wrong for his actions, but if you want to win him back, change your game plan.
  • Stand by your rights and stand alone, or play by his rules, "court" him, and WIN back his favor...
  • He finds his identity in a woman's approval and admiration. Let that be YOURS.
  • No man has ever crawled out from under his wife's criticism to be a better man - no matter how justified her condemnation - this statement will forever ring in my ears.
  • "Forget your rights as a wife and forget his Christian obligations to his vows. You must act as if you and the secretary are engaged in open competition for this man."
  • "The tool of your warfar is your loving, kind, delightful, radiant, adoring self."
  • God is on your side. Fight and WIN.
When a woman humbles herself and forgives her husband (for anything, really), she wins back not only his affection, but hopefully he will realize his foolish actions and she will be cherished.

The day you have a merry heart will be the first day of rebuilding your marriage into the heavenly gift it was meant to be. :)

Time to Consider
~Do a study on the word JOY. Write down and memorize your favorite verses on joy.
~"Every morning, let the first thing your husband sees on your face be a gentle smile, even if your eyes are still closed."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chapter 1 - God's Gift

Everyone says first year of marriage is hard.  I didn't quite know what that meant until I was screaming and angrily throwing a spoon at my love's neck. Yeah. Surprised? I threw lots of things. It was disgusting. It's actually really embarrassing.
What happened to newlywed bliss? What happened to young love? It was nowhere to be found the months. I was a monster.  Seriously. Then I started reading the book Created to Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl.  And my life changed. My mindset transformed, attitude turned around, disposition lightened, and heart softened.  I had NOT been fulfilling my role as the help meet God created me to be. Therefore, I was not happy. And neither was my husband.

Chapter 1

"A wise woman doesn't take anything for granted. She is thankful to be loved and seeks to make herself more lovely." - Debi Pearl

As you wedded ladies have probably already discovered, you didn't just marry "the right man" and are living happily ever after. Both parties involved in matrimony are selfish sinners, so it takes a TON of work to create a heavenly marriage. Debi says, "Just like anything worthwhile, it takes doing the right things every day...every hour...every moment."
Boy is that the truth.

In Genesis 2:18 God said that it is not good that man should be he made a help meet for him. That's where we come in. We are indispensable. God made us for the specific purpose of meeting the needs of a man.  This is our purpose for existing!  Debi asks some tough questions to start things off:
  • If God created a special woman, perfectly suited to be your husband's helper, would you be that woman?
  • Does your husband share Adam's feelings of delight when he looks upon you?
  • Do you wake each morning ready to make your husband happy and blessed, to serve him to the best of your ability - to be his helper?
  • Are you engaged in active goodwill toward your man?...This is God's perfect will for you.
She makes some convicting analogies as well:
  • When you are a help meet to your husband, you are a helper to Christ.
  • When you honor your husband, you honor God.
  • When you obey your husband you obey God.
These words honor, obey, help, serve...these are the words that should define us.  They don't seem so bad when you're care-free and single, or falling in love, or happily planning a wedding, or jest hitched. But just wait until the dishes are piled up, the house is a mess, the phone is ringing, the kids are screaming, and your husband just walked in the door expecting dinner on the table.  THAT is when those words need to define us the most. And it won't come naturally. No...naturally, we would want to scream and run away. So we have to train our hearts and minds to see ourselves as designed for the sole purpose of honoring, obeying, helping, and serving GOD through honoring, obeying, helping, and serving our man. Sometimes, knowing that we're serving our Lord is the only thing that will carry us through those challenging times.

"God's will is that you be a suitable helper to your husband." But what if we know we can do a better job at leading than our husbands?  Sometimes we just have more experience with something, or we're plain 'ol better at something than he is. I bet you can think of a job he has as the leader that you know you can do better. Debi says, "It is not a question of whether or not you can do a better job than he; it is a matter of doing what you were 'designed' to do. If you successfully do the job of leading the family, you will not find satisfaction in it. It is far better that the job be done poorly by your husband than to be done well by you." God's design for the marriage relationship is perfect. How dare we think we can do a better job.

Being a helper does not equal inferiority.  It just means we are in a position to help one in authority do their job - better!  Men are created to be helpers of God, and we are to help our man in that goal...making him more productive and efficient at whatever he chooses to do.  You have no authority to set the agenda. But if he can trust you, he will make you is closest advisor...

Here's how Debi describes what a perfect help meet looks like:
  • Does not require a list of chores, as would a child
  • Her readiness to please motivates her to look around and see things she knows her husband would like to see done
  • She should not use lame excuses to avoid these jobs
The very fact that you are reading this indicates that your heart's desire is to honor God by becoming a real help meet to you man.

*At the end of every chapter, she gives ways to apply what we've learned....

>Make a new habit: Think of ways you can be a helper to your husband. Start today!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mute Your Mouth

I've been thinking a lot about talking. I say SO many things in one day. And how many of them are positive and uplifting?  When I think about what sorts of things I should be saying, Eph 5:19(a) comes to mind, and always sort of baffles me: "addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs..." (ESV)  I understand what it says, but how do I do that??  I've always wanted to understand this verse and put it into practice, but I need a little guidance. 
What do you think about this verse?

There's a book called SoulPancake that Rainn Wilson (Dwight from The Office) co-authored, which challenges the reader to tackle "life's toughest questions".  While clicking through the preview, one page really struck me.  Have a look for yourself: 
It says: Cease your chatter. Don't speak for an entire day. Just listen. Describe your experience.

Can you imagine doing that? Muting your mouth for a whole day?? Even just pondering that experience made me come to realize a few things:

1. I would refrain from idle chatter
2. I would be challenged to express myself in other ways
3. I would THINK before I spoke!

I think I'll try it next week and let you know how it goes. How about you?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Raise your hand if you're a control freak!!! OK, I wouldn't really call myself a control FREAK, but maybe a control fool. I think every woman has a teensy weensy bit of control something in their blood.

I have been realizing how this affects my daily life with Steven.  Of course it can affect my relationship with others as well, but I'm speaking of specific situations in the home.

I'm about to divulge the biggest battle I've faced since getting married, and how my trying to control it exploded in my face. Several times.

Ok. So I really don't like the computer in the bed. I think the bed should be where you sleep. And do other things...besides watching shows or checking facebook. I dunno, I might want to lie (or lay?) in bed on occasion to surf the web, or maybe watch a movie, but bottom line: I don't want my man staring at a screen every night when I'M right there beside him! This was a HUGE and I mean MONSTROUS issue in my head as a new-new-newly-wed. There's not a big enough angry word for me to describe how I felt about this.

This question played in my head over and over : "Why in the world would he want to be looking at a computer screen when I'M right here?! What could be more interesting to him than a new bride?!"

Some women in my position might have thought to begin discussing this issue like a rational person, but not I. Nooooo siree.  In my mind, it made much more sense to completely FA-REAK out on him. Big time. Several times. Some of you might be thinking (as I did), "Well why didn't he just stop when he saw how upset you were about it?"  There are several answers to that question. But let's do a for instance.

For instance: You loooooove donuts. You love them so much that every single night before bed, no matter the hour, you divulge in the doughy deliciousness.  You take your time to savor each bite, each one tasting even better than the last.  You do this for about 5 years straight. Then one day, someone walks into your life and says (well...screams), "You are NOT eating ANY more donuts before bed! You  can have them any other time of the day, but not past 11 o'clock!!!"
How would you feel? Kinda annoyed, right? And wondering, "Why not? Am I hurting anyone with my donut? What's wrong with eating one before bed every night (besides the fattening reason)?"

Steven's internet sesh before bed is his donut. It's relaxing to him after work. It's a habit.
And I HATED it.

So naturally, since I was miserable, I needed to make some rules to ensure that his "donut" ritual would cease. Immediately.

Rule (attempt) #1: No internet in the house. We're canceling it. Go to the library if you want it.
Rule (attempt) #2: No internet after 12 o'clock. (Then at least I KNOW when the misery will be over!)
Rule #3: No internet in the bed. This one worked.

And then Steven fell asleep on the couch for 2 nights in a row.  Rule #3 revoked immediately.

Just the other night I finally made my peace with his habit. Here's what I finally learned (after 6 months of fighting it tooth and nail):

1. START SOFTLY: If you want need something to change, please, PLEASE start with a calm, gentle suggestion. This is soooo hard, but really...would you be open to changing your habits after someone reams you out? I don't think I would.

2. DO NOT MAKE RULES: Or should I say DONUT make rules! Please remember that.
The man is the leader. Not the woman (fortunately!). If we want something to change we must appeal to the leader in a calm, sincere, humble manner. Rules (set by you alone) will only frustrate him, strip from him the leadership position, and drive him away from you (to the couch).

3. CHRIST & THE CHURCH: My man has my best interests in mind. Just like the church should trust Christ, I need to trust him.  He may not always be perfect, but if I position myself as the church should be towards Christ, how much easier will it be for him fall right into Christ's role towards the church? Boo yah.

4. HABITS: Steven has had this habit for years. Did I expect his daily routines to completely change when he married me? Yes, yes I did. So I had to deal with the consequences of that.

5. Steven is much more willing to give up his donut when I'm happy to let him eat it. :)

I'd love to hear what you have to say about this! How would you have handled this situation?  Have you had similar challenges in your marriage? What worked/didn't for you?

Love. ♥ 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Just Say YES.

You've heard the saying, "Just Say NO." That's for drinking and drugs. In marriage, it's quite the opposite.  Not only is it helpful to get into the habit of saying YES but it's important to be joyful about doing things for your man.  Let take a look at what happens when you're not joyful.

Yesterday afternoon Steven was getting ready for work, and I was reading my favorite blog called The Pioneer Woman.  She had a Word Nerd contest going on, and I wanted to WIN!  I was busy researching the word for when two rivers intersect (confluence), and the name of the oak tree in the Swietokrztskie Mountains in Poland (Bartek), when Steven called out from the bathroom, "Hey Steph do you know where my rain gear is?" Frustrated that he didn't even know where his own stuff was, I lazily called back, "Yeah it's in the blue bag in the closet." Then I hear, "Can you get it for me please?"  I knew he was in a hurry, but in my head I was thinking...BUT BUT BUT.... I'm trying to win WORD NERD!

 I said I would, but kept on researching...oh interesting, ordnance is another word for artillery. Hmm!...

Time ticked on and I heard, "Hey have you made my sandwich yet?"- the one I volunteered to make for him - and that's when I snapped. ARGH!! Can't he do anything himself??? Why do I have to do everything for him?!?!  My retort was (and what a comeback), "Not yet, have you taken out the recycling?" as I'm looking at the overflowing container. Good one.

I found the rain gear, finished 2 sandwiches, and took out the recycling in a huff. He left for work as I stomped back up the stairs to our apartment to return to Word Nerd...on which I eventually gave up.

So let's recap -

I'm the one who volunteered to make him a sandwich.
I'm the queen of the house and I get to organize the closet how I like.

Why was I getting mad at him for asking about something I said I would do? Why was I so frustrated? Well, it really just boils down to the I's. I wanted to finish what I was doing instead of helping him for 5 minutes.  It was PB&J for goodness sakes.

So when your man asks you to do something, say YES but do it joyfully.

Here are some practical exercises for us:

Q: Honey, can you please make me a sandwich?  A: YES!
Q: Babe, can you take me to work? (It's 6:15 am) A: a groggy YES!
Q: Hey, can you do me a favor? A: ANYTHING!

Good. I think you'll be happy with the response you get. :)